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Nov. 19, 2008, edition 1 /
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008 / Page 5
Beth Schmidt Park beats out Firehouse Field for new library site
Four months of debating and
waiting came to an end last Tuesday
night when the Elon Board of Aldermen
voted to build the new Western Branch
Library at Beth Schmidt Park.
Aldermen Mark Greene, Jo Grimley
and Lawrence Slade voted in favor of
the Beth Schmidt Park location, while
Aldermen Ron Klepcyk and Davis
Montgomery voted in favor of the
second option, Firehouse Field. Mayor
Jerry Tolley did not vote.
The Beth Schmidt Park location was
the originally intended site, before
Elon University offered the three-acre
Firehouse Field location to the town in
According to estimates by the
Alley, Williams, Carmen and King Inc.
engineering company, the Williamson
Avenue site’s development cost would
be $387,890 and the park site’s would
More than 40 citizens attended the
Board of Aldermens voting meeting,
many of whom had to stand in the
municipal building’s hallway when the
room ran out of chairs.
The public comments portion of the
meeting ran for longer than an hour
before the vote. Citizens from both
sides voiced their opinions and made
final arguments for their choice of
Most of the park supporters said
they were concerned about increasing
traffic on Williamson Avenue and that
they thought the park setting would be
Firehouse Field supporters stressed
the importance of preserving the park’s
wooded areas and natural atmosphere,
and the fact that the land on the site,
valued at $600,000, was free.
Just before the board’s vote, citizen
Shirley Beyer announced the results
of an informal survey mailed to Elon
citizens the week before the meeting.
She said the survey was sponsored by
a “longtime citizen” who “has great
concern for the town” and “has done a
lot for the town.” She said the citizen
wanted to hear the town’s opinion
and because the board did not issue a
survey, he decided to do his own.
The results of the survey were 204
for Beth Schmidt Park, 47 for Firehouse
Her announcement of the survey
sparked unrest and interruptions from
many citizens, some of whom claimed
to have never received a survey and
others who said they didn’t return it
because they found it biased.
The Board of Aldermen agreed.
“It appeared that it was a slanted
survey,” Tolley said.
Town Manager Mike Dula said
the town received 200 photocopied
surveys, all delivered together, that
favored the Firehouse Field site.
Reactions to the board’s decision
were as divided as the opinions that
were held going into the vote.
“I supported locating it at Beth
Schmidt Park, so I’m pleased that that’s
the way the vote went," Grimley said.
Citizen Debbie Mann said she was
pleased with the board’s decision, but
“1 just really thought that the
university would be able to pull it off,”
Heather Holley-Hall, head of branch
libraries, said she is excited about
the possibilities the park offers for
programming, especially children’s
Citizen Pam Kiser said she is
disappointed with the vote because she
believes the Firehouse Field location
protects the park and allows for more
Klepcyk, who voted against the park
site, cited expansion issues as his main
“I think the main reason I'm
disappointed is because those two
acres that the town owns over at the
park location is space that I would
have hoped we could use to expand the
park,” he said.
Tolley said that the most Important
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Aldermen Mark Greene, Jo Grimley and Lawrence Slade voted In favor of the Beth Schmidt
Park location for the new library, which was the originally intended site.
part of the meeting was that a choice
“I am very pleased that we have
made a decision,” Tolley said. “All
along, I thought both of them were
good sites, from the very beginning.”
Judy Cobb, director of Alamance
County Public Libraries, said she was
thrilled with the meeting’s turnout and
could tell that this was an important
issue to the town.
“I am very excited that the Town of
Elon has selected a site, because now
we can move forward,” Cobb said.
Cobb said the next step for the
library’s construction is for the town
to select and hire an architect, then
choose a design proposed by that
architect and begin site development.
“We’ve got a long way to go as far as
getting the building up, but this was a
huge first step,” Greene said.
“I think everybody is just so pleased
that we’re going to have a library, and
no matter where we put it, people are
going to be excited about it and use it,”
Firehouse Field supporters were concerned
about losing natural wooded areas.
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